Chapter 1

Most would die to marry a prince. To live in a world of royalty, filled with tiaras, and gowns and beautiful jewellery.

Most would kill for the chance to stay forever young. To live for eternity, and never fear death.

Most would give up their life and their freedom to get both. To be eternally young, forever ruling the world by the side of their prince.

Most would.

But not everyone.

Not me.

It's a shame my father didn't care.

That's how I ended up standing at the altar in the tightest wedding dress in the world with Prince Jeffrey, about to say our vows. Neither of us wanted to be here. We weren't in love. I guess that didn't matter.

"Do you, Angelina Banks, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, for richer and for poorer, till death do you part?"

I felt the words rising in my throat, but I tried to suppress them. I glanced with my eyes at the magnificent frosted glass doors at the end of the hall, wishing I could escape through them. Unfortunately, it felt as if my feet were glued to the floor, my hands tied to his. I couldn't move. Not that it would do any good to exit that way anyway. I would never get out. I could see the colourful silhouettes of the crowds on the other side, waiting for the ceremony to be over so they could congratulate us, the royal couple, and to start the celebrations that would last days. They would never let me leave.

"I do," I whispered, the lie slipping easily off my lips. I knew that that was just the first lie of many, since for the rest of my life, I would have to pretend that I loved the man I was marrying with all my heart and that I was happy to be their queen.

"Do you Prince Jeffrey Swanson take this woman..." As the priest talked, Jeffrey looked at me nervously. It was now or never. This moment would decide our fates. After he said 'I do', there would be no going back. We would be ruling the kingdom, side-by-side, for the rest of our lives.

Jeffrey glanced over his shoulder at his parents, who smiled back encouragingly. When I looked over at my father and brother, they both glared at me, even though I had done what they wanted. I turned back to face my soon-to-be husband as priest asked, "Till death do you part?"

Jeffrey turned back as well, but didn't say anything. He was hesitating.

'Come on Jeffrey!' I screamed in my head. 'Don't say yes! We're too young to get married!'

"I do," he whispered, clearly wishing he didn't have to say it.

"With the power invested in me, I pronounce you husband and wife. Prince and Princess of Avius. You may kiss the bride."

As we both leaned in and kissed over our intertwined hands, the crowd cheered. I wouldn't be surprised if the people outside were cheering as well, even though they couldn't hear what was going on. It seemed that Jeffrey and I were the only people unhappy with our marriage.

When we pulled back, Jeffery looked at me apologetically. That's when the reality of the situation sunk in.

I had just married the prince.

I was a part of the royal family.

And I didn't want any of it.

The celebrations lasted through the rest of the evening, night and next day. By the next evening, things had settled down enough that I could spend some time in my room without anyone noticing. I changed out of my beautiful dress that was made for the reception and celebrations, into a nightgown that was much more comfortable. It felt so nice to undo my tight corset, and relax on my bed.

The festivities going on had meant nothing to me. My marriage to the prince was just another thing that was going wrong in my life, another thing that was pushing me over the edge. I didn't want to be a princess. I didn't want to have to constantly lie to everyone around me, be broadcasted around the kingdom proclaiming my love for a man that was just my friend. I was seventeen for goodness' sake! I should've been in school, not preparing to rule a country!

I pulled the covers over my body, as if that could suppress the cold feeling that was growing in my soul. I knew what I had to do, I knew that it was the only way to get my freedom back. In some ways, I didn't want to do it. But I'd waited long enough. It was time to be brave, and to do what my head and heart finally agreed on.

That night, under the light of the full moon, I snuck out and walked over to the bridge that crossed the river behind my new home.

I climbed over the railing and stood with half my feet over the edge of the bridge. I leaned forward over the water, and the only thing stopping me from falling was the loose grip I had on the railing behind me.

I used to sneak out all the time when I was staying at the palace. The bridge was always my favourite part of the property, even though it wasn't covered in sparkles or filled with jewels. That was the reason I liked it, honestly. I liked the simplicity of it.

That night was different though. That night, I didn't bother being careful about where I stood. I didn't keep my toes on the bridge or safely lean against the railing, as I stared out at the city I called home.

The city I now rule, I whispered in my head.

I tried to tell myself that it might get better. That tomorrow could be the best day of my life. And that could be true, I guess. Tomorrow could be the day that my life changed for the better. But it's never happened. And I'm tired of waiting.

With that thought in my mind, I let go of the railing, and let my body fall to the ground.